An anxious wait of several weeks for the citizens of Melrose has finally ended with news the town has won its bid for Fairtrade Town status.
More than 18 months of hard work means Melrose now joins over 600 similar towns across the UK that have successfully shown the benefits of raising awareness of how the Fairtrade scheme benefits producers and farmers in developing countries, as well as encouraging positive support for local retailers and businesses.
In the Borders, Melrose now takes its place alongside Selkirk and Peebles, which have already achieved Fairtrade Town accreditation.
The Melrose team satisfied the five goals set by the Fairtrade Foundation for Fairtrade Town status, including a far-reaching awareness raising campaign, encouraging local businesses, community groups, churches and schools to stock and use Fairtrade products, undertaking local surveys and maintaining a local steering group to manage the process.
The Melrose group was supported in its application by Scottish Borders Council, which recently renewed its own commitment to using Fairtrade products.
The success of the application was due in large measure to a range of local support. Melrose Primary School was a key partner from the outset and local retailers responded by stocking a growing number of Fairtrade products and providing a promotional shop window.
Melrose group secretary Dave Potts told us: “Our awareness raising campaign has certainly been helped by coverage we have received in the local media on a very regular basis.
“I would also pay tribute to the small group of volunteers who are the management committee, and with other group members, have continued to work diligently towards our goal of Fairtrade Town status.”
Having achieved its first goal, the group must now continue to make progress to retain the status as this will be assessed again by the Fairtrade Foundation in 12 months’ time.
Plans for the next year include seeking to ‘badge’ local shops and businesses that stock/use Fairtrade products, develop and expand work with local schools, produce a small local Fairtrade directory and create a social media and on-line identity.